CPI leader Kanhaiya Kumar addresses a rally in Aurangabad in Bihar on Wednesday. (Express Photo)
Keeping up his attack on the BJP, CPI leader and former JNU Students’ Union president Kanhaiya Kumar on Wednesday said people do not elect governments to save religion but to save jobs, and build schools and hospitals.
Addressing a well-attended rally at Aurangabad in Bihar, on the 12th day of his “Jan Gan Man” yatra, which concludes at Patna’s Gandhi Maidan on February 27, Kanhaiya said, “The Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) is nothing but a whitener for NRC. After Supreme Court’s Ayodhya verdict and scrapping of special status to J&K under Article 370, the BJP needed a new issue. It started work on fresh polarisation with CAA and NPR, and a covert plan to bring in NRC. The government’s vikaas (development) claims stand completely exposed...”
The rally was organised by the Joint Forum against NPR/NRC/CAA, formed by over a hundred political and non-political outfits.
On attacks on vehicles that are part of his team during the statewide tour, Kanhaiya said he does not bother about some people throwing motor oil, ink, eggs or stones, but is recharged every day with the overwhelming crowd support. Besides local CPI and CPI(M) leaders, Congress MLA from Aurangabad Anand Shanker and senior Hindustani Awam Morcha (S) leader Upendra Prasad, who had unsuccessfully contested 2019 Lok Sabha polls, shared the dais with Kanhaiya.
While the underlying theme of his rallies so far has been taking on what he calls the BJP’s “divide and rule and polarisation” attempts with CAA, NPR and NRC, Kanhaiya is also speaking about issues such as lack of jobs, question paper leaks in examinations, the poor state of government schools and hospitals.
People, especially the youth, cheered loudly as Kanhaiya said: “We will show you papers — papers of our educational degrees to get jobs. But we will not show you proof of citizenship... The spelling of my father’s name in my and my brother’s certificates are different. How can I expect a poor person to show documents of their parents?”
Drawing an analogy with Ganesha’s head to explain NRC and CAA, he said: “If you cannot prove your citizenship in CAA, your original citizenship head will be chopped off and replaced with the elephant head of renewed citizenship. But this will not mean anything, because once you lose citizenship, you may lose your house and other properties. The entire attempt is to take away homes and land of Mianjis (Muslims). But beware, poor Hindus may also suffer as much — with the Kamrans, the Kanhaiyas would also suffer.”
The young leader, who unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha polls from Begusarai for the CPI, maintained that behind the din of CAA and NPR, the government is silently trying to sell off LIC. “If we do not need a sarkari (government-owned) BSNL, LIC and Air India and government schools, why do we need a sarkari Prime Minister?”
Deepak Kumar, a student who had come from Sasaram, said his friends discuss Kanhaiya as the new youth icon: “He talks sense — he talks about health, education, unemployment.”
Parveen Sultana, who had come from Obra, said Kanhaiya stands for India’s secular credentials. “He has given a great boost to our fight,” she said.
Bhigu Ram, a retired teacher, said: “Nitish Kumar may win another term but Kanhaiya has the potential for future. Since Tejashwi Yadav is not picking up, he looks like a future leader.”
At the rally, like it has been at each one so far, volunteers moved around with donation boxes; they said they depend entirely on people’s support.
The Lalu Prasad-led RJD and Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP, both of which were part of the Opposition alliance in the Lok Sabha polls, have stayed away from Kanhaiya’s tour, even though the CPI’s state leadership has been open about forging ties with the RJD-led Opposition alliance to take on BJP and JD(U) in Bihar Assembly polls later this year.
Kanhaiya has kept his speeches focussed on the BJP and has refrained from mentioning Bihar CM and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar and Leader of Opposition, RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav.
CPI state secretary Satyanarayan Singh told The Indian Express: “It is getting clear from Kanhaiya’s rallies that RJD’s Muslim-Yadav combination is dismantling fast. Muslims’ support for Kanhaiya is overwhelming.... We believe all non-NDA parties have to come together to defeat the BJP in Assembly polls”.